Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ding 70!

The group got levels 69 and 70 via outside questing, mostly in Northrend. I completed some quests in Shadowmoon Valley so that I could skin enough mobs to finish getting the paladin's leatherworking to 350. As it turns out, the beasts in Shadowmoon Valley cannot be skinned for Fel Scales, and thus a short farming trip to the Zangarmarsh was in order. You can skin the basilisks for Fel Scales, and there is a near-endless supply of them along the west and north borders of the zone.

That all occurred on the way to level 69, and once I had that level I decided to get their tradeskills up to at least the Northrend minimums (350) and as far beyond as my available resources would allow. The end results of a few hours of farming and crafting left me with the following:

Bonuss is at 441 skinning and 365 leatherworking.
Cannee is at 385 jewelcrafting.
Xannee is at 400 herbalism and 405 alchemy.
Zannee is at 355 inscription and 385 tailoring.

My level 75 shaman, Peganna, is at 416 enchanting and 441 blacksmithing. I don't have a miner in the group, and that is fine. My hunter is a miner/engineer and my rogue has herbalism and mining. Missing out on the occasional mining deposit while questing or running an instance is of no concern. I did want to be able to have an enchanter in the group once I started running instances again. Since I'm trying to level up their professions with as little AH purchasing as possible, every lost enchanting material slows me down just a bit.

I changed the shaman's spec from enhancement to restoration. She still has a goodly number of Karazhan drops, so that she has not had to replace many items as of yet. She should be just fine as a healer in instanced zones (particularly the sub-75 ones). Since she is now part of the group, I changed the priest back to shadow spec. I have continued to tweak and fiddle with the DPS macros for the group, which takes some planning since they are different classes. I think I've got it where I want it now, so that the priest and warlock load up a mob with DoTs while the mage is cranking up a pyroblast. Anything that survives that onslaught... wait, nothing will survive that onslaught! Well, elites will, but that's just the start of the DPS rotation.

I've still got some questing to do in order to reach the quests for the level 70-71 instances. I may stay in Northrend now, because it means I won't have to worry about flying mounts until level 77, at which point I may not have to dip very far into the guild bank for the necessary funds (which may not be there anyway, at least for the expensive skill rank, as I am playing a bit less lately).

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ding 68! Options and options and...

The team is now level 68. I set them up so I can run the four alts with the paladin as the party leader and tank, and the priest as healer. For a short time I had the priest spec'ed Shadow and the paladin Holy. This got them through questing in Nagrand and three trips through Sethekk Halls. I fiddled with attack and heal macros and still have some work to do on those, but after a shaky first run, the other two runs were much smoother. For outdoors questing, very basic macros should do the job, at least once the paladin's weapons skills catch up!

None of the trips through Sethekk Halls were spotless. I was never able to get the group to avoid the final boss's AE more than once in any fight, and before long they were all dead. The hunter and pet survived just fine and thus Talon King Ikiss died every time and dished out some loot. While this zone has only two bosses and a heck of a lot of trash mobs to clear (with annoying abilities such as mind control, AE fear, and spell reflect auras) the final boss is the only boss in a sub-70 zone that has an extended loot table with some of the "tier zero" set pieces for the Burning Crusade expansion. The warlock and priest walked out with their set leggings, and the paladin got a DPS ring and belt (which also dropped on the second trip, sigh).

Anyway, the three trips through the zone left them between 10 and 15% of the way to level 68. The priest was pretty far ahead on experience, with the paladin several percentage points behind and the mage and warlock bringing up the rear. So I decided to try and even them out as much as I could, first by completing quests for all but the priest, and then grinding up experience while dropping group members as they reached parity with the priest. Eventually, they got to where the spread is 165 experience points. This means that they'll keep pace with each other and when one of them hits a new level, they all do.

I headed to Borean Tundra in Northrend and had them set their hearth at the inn. With the mage in the group I can port back to Shattrath or any of the horde cities whenever I need to. This morning I logged them in and grabbed some quests, completing one (kill 15 of the nerubian mobs around Warsong Hold). It was pretty easy going, but the paladin's relatively low weapon skills are a bit of a problem. I may head back to Outland and seek out quests in Shadowmoon Valley or Netherstorm while I get his weapon skills up to snuff. As an added incentive, he would be able to skin mobs there and complete the last few points he needs in order to reach 350 leatherworking, at which point he can learn Northrend recipes and work on those.

I figure that at 70 I will get them their starter flying skill and mounts, and not worry about the epic flying skill until level 77. Since they won't be using flying mounts in Northrend until then, and will only need them for a few of the Outland dungeons, there's no particular rush to purchase them, and I'm still building up the necessary gold and won't have enough when they hit 70 (the bank just hit the 11,000 gold mark this weekend). By the time the group hits 77, I should have more than enough gold to purchase all of the flying skills that are available.

In any case, they're just two levels from having a whole lot of options available to them. While Outland zones and dungeons won't provide the same experience amounts as Northrend will, they would be able to hit 71 and possibly 72 just running the normal level 70 Outland dungeons (and the heroic dungeons) a few times. I want to be able to run each of the Northrend instances more than once, and I want to complete the outdoors quests, and all of that should have me at 80 before I'm close to being done. Then again, the content is designed to lead you to 80, where you will spend your time farming faction, running heroics, and running raids/arenas if you are so inclined. Neither of the latter are among my goals. I do want to run all of the Northrend 5-man content, and then turn and see about running old-world content just for kicks. But that is, as ever, a good ways off.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Hoarding gold, not levels.

The group is still 66, as I did not do much with them this weekend. I spent most of the weekend shopping and watching the Super Bowl, and that didn't leave much time for the crew. I hauled them over to Nagrand and grabbed up all of the quests that were available in the horde town of Garadar, and completed several of them. While my plans are always subject to change (and they change pretty frequently) my intention at the moment is to get them another level or two via questing. I do want to run a few more instances as well, perhaps this coming weekend or the one after, depending on their progress.

When they get to level 68, I am tempted to take them to Northrend and work on quests there in order to get them to levels 69-70, and perhaps even level 71. But I also want to make sure to run each Outland dungeon at least once before I leave that continent behind, and possibly try heroic Outland instances as well. 70 will be nice, it will open up a lot of options for the team. And I have most of their professions leveled past 375, with only leatherworking and inscriptions still needing some levels. The paladin has raised his leatherworking to 340, thanks in large part to completing most of the Nesingwary quests in Nagrand, which yielded several stacks of leather. Completing the quests should get him to 350 (or very close to it) and at that point I can wait until I get to Northrend to continue to level it. The priest is still at 190 in Inscription, and I'll need to pick up the pace on that, if only to clear up the logjam of herbs that are building up in the guild bank.

Speaking of which, the guild bank continues to shape up nicely. The bank now has just over 9100 gold in it and counting. Between gold from questing, daily quests, and auctions, I will be able to get the group their initial flying skill and mounts when they hit 70. The faster flying skill and mounts will take a bit longer, but considering that I've accumulated around 3,000 gold since the last update just over a week ago, it shouldn't be that bad. I'm definitely looking forward to 70 just for the myriad of options that the team will have in terms of stuff to do.